w/ Said The Sky, Yultron
January 13, 2018
San Francisco, CA
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
Photos and review by Jared Stossel.
A little before 8:30 PM, I casually stroll up to the box office of Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in the heart of San Francisco. While I’m a photographer by trade, and take any chance that I can get, I had applied far too late in the game to obtain a photo pass for Marshmello, one of the most anticipated and top-tiered act In the world of electronic dance music. No matter though, as I was incredibly excited to finally play witness to one of his highly talked about sets, being provided a review ticket for night two of a sold-out two show run in San Francisco.
I’m handed the envelope, and lo and behold, photo pass. I had to ask to make sure it was correct (it was). In a matter of one hour, I managed to sprint from the venue to the train station, make it back to my home in Oakland, grab all of my camera gear, drive through Bay Bridge traffic, find free parking near the venue (if you live in San Francisco, you know what a miracle that is), and made it back into the venue with fifteen minutes to spare.
I’m thrilled to say that my journey across the Bay Bridge and back was completely worth it. Donned in all white (as well as a blue limited edition Bay Area “Mello Gang” shirt), and his iconic marshmallow head, producer extraordinaire Marshmello took the stage with an amount of energy and gusto that would leave any of today’s biggest electronic producers envious. But he’s a puzzling character: no one actually knows who he is Some have speculated, and there are many rumors as to who it could be, but we’ll have to leave that up to the Internet conspiracy theorists to decide: he’s made it very clear he’s not telling anyone any time soon.
When Marshmello first burst onto the scene, I couldn’t exactly make heads or tails of the genre he was producing. It was kind of a mellow (no pun intended) form of trap music, a vibrant brand of pop-electronic music entirely in its own right, with his signature face mask playing to the producer’s advantage across social media. You can’t help but be intrigued when you see the Marshmello symbol: it grasps your attention. But even with its attention-grabbing icon, I could never picture one of Marshmello’s shows being as crazy as something like a Skrillex, Knife Party, or even Zedd show. Well, I was incredibly wrong with that statement.
Playing for an hour and a half, Marshmello had a sold-out venue in the palm of his hands, with every single twist of the knob on his turntable leading into hit track after hit track. His set was quite eclectic, venturing into areas of trap, dubstep, and even hip-hop.
A number of moments stuck out to me throughout the evening, outside of the immaculate sound quality and stunning visuals. For starters: the surprise performance from the Bay Area’s very own Nef The Pharaoh. While the performance was short, it certainly got everyone in the crowd excited, and the energy radiated all the way up to the balcony seats. Second: Marshmello can sing! It’s not uncommon for producers to lend their vocals to their own tracks; two of Calvin Harris’ biggest songs, “Summer” and “Feel So Close” feature his own vocal lines. But it added a unique twist to hear the producer take the microphone, walk away from the towering DJ setup and get up close and personal with the crowd. It added something special to the show, an element that makes him stand out both as a performer and a producer. Finally, his mixing skills were top notch. There was nothing overtly technical when it came to Marshmello’s transitions between songs, but the setlist took some unexpected turns that played off well. Those moments built up and paid off in all the right ways, assuring his two-night residency in San Francisco will be one of the most talked about and well-remembered events of the year.
Editor's Note: I told the anectode that I told at the beginning because every show is an adventure. Getting to any of the hundreds of events I’m lucky enough to cover each year doesn’t nearly have as exciting of a start as this one did, and it makes it that much more memorable. To add, I take an immense amount of pride in any kind of photograhy that I do, so getting to an event and being able to showcase my craft makes me feel even luckier that I get to capture events like these each year.